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HMRC internal manual

Construction Industry Scheme Reform Manual

Compliance: Overview & ‘Reasonable excuse’: What is not a ‘reasonable excuse’?

While you must consider all relevant circumstances, there are some situations which we will not normally accept alone as a reasonable excuse.

It will not be a reasonable excuse to claim that

  • the failure is due to a dilatory agent (see CISR81100)
  • information relevant to the payment or return was not available by the due date
  • HMRC did not remind the customer about the obligation that they had due
  • the affairs of the customer are too complicated to enable the payment or return to made on time
  • the customer is too busy running the business
  • in the case of a late return, there is no intention of avoiding tax or of deferring payment of tax
  • the customer is not liable to pay any tax for the period for which the return is required, or has overpaid tax
  • the customer was not aware of the law relating to their obligations to make payments, returns, and so on
  • a payment is made in good time, but because there were insufficient funds in the account to honour the cheque, the cheque consequently ‘bounced’
  • the amount of CIS monthly return penalties in total are out of proportion with the CIS deductions being reported on the returns to which the penalties relate.

If doubts remain about the validity of the claims made in an appeal and you are the Decision Maker, you may offer an internal review of the matter (see ARTG4000), or alternatively, the appellant may make an appeal direct to the Tribunal for a ruling on the matter.

If specialist technical advice is required for unusual or complex cases, a submission should be made to the CIS Technical Team (CISR97090), following the guidance on the CIS Intranet, using the ‘submissions template’.